JAM Audio has completely refreshed their Bluetooth Speaker product line. The company, established in 2012, has moved their speaker range into bold new directions with the Hang and Chill series of speakers and there are a lot of options to choose from in their new ranges.
- This review will look specifically at five new speakers from JAM Audio:
- HX-P101 Hang Up
- HX-P303 Hang Tight
- HX-P505 Hang Around
- HX-P202 Chill Out and
- HX-P606 Zero Chill
JAM Audio Hang & Chill speakers review
These new speakers from JAM share a lot of similar DNA.
First off, all of the speakers tested run Bluetooth 4.2 with the exception of the HX-P505 Hang Around which runs Bluetooth 4.1. What this means is that your new speaker will access the great low power features from the new software, allowing for extended use times. All of the speakers run for at least 8 hours between charges with some of the higher end speakers in the line going for up to 20 hours before they need to charged (they use Micro USB to charge).
JAM Audio Bluetooth speakers have a long range
In addition, being energy efficient, these speakers have a Bluetooth range of 30m. You may begin to experience a degraded connection as you move further away, but your speaker shouldn’t disconnect. For non-Bluetooth devices, all of the speakers in the line also come with an AUX port for a direct physical connection (the Chill series speakers also come with a short AUX cord in the box).
Don’t worry about water with the JAM Hang & Chill speakers
Second, they’re all IP67 rated. That means that in addition to your speaker being completely protected against contact with solid particles, it also allows them to be submersed in water of up to a 1m depth for up to 30 minutes without damage. Pack them in your beach bag and prepare for tunes without having to worry about ruining them on your excursion.
Phone calls and great value
Thirdly, like many Bluetooth speakers, the JAM speakers I tested allowed you to make and receive phone calls. The quality of the sound during calls was acceptable for a Bluetooth speaker. It should not be a selling feature of the devices, but is a nice added bonus.
Finally, all of the new units from JAM share a great value. All of the speakers that were reviewed retail for under $100, with some of them going for under $50 (the HX-P101 Hang Up and HX-P202 Chill Out).
The JAM Audio “X and O” design
I did have one pet peeve that stretched across the entire line. JAM Audio made a bold choice with their new speakers; instead of using standard controls, these speakers all feature a similar, non-standard three button layout. Every device is controlled by an X button, O button and a raise “bump” button in between them. The O raises the volume or acts a “forward” button, the X lowers the volume or acts as a “back” button and the button in the middle acts as both the Play/Pause and the power button. It makes for a very visually striking design, but it take a little while to get used to it. In addition, Bluetooth speakers are often utilized in settings where people that have never used the device are expected to use them. The non-standard buttons makes the units hard to quickly use for new users.
From this point on, we will dive into the specific families of speakers: the Hang and Chill speakers.
JAM Audio Hang Series
The three speakers in the Hang Series: Hang Up, Hang Tight and Hang Around all feature similar design: they are flatter then the speakers in the Chill line-up and feature integrated charge cables. You will never search for a Micro-USB cable again, because the cord is built into the unit. Not a single JAM device tested here comes with a power brick, meaning that you will have to plug your speaker into a computer or a power brick purchased separately.
HX-P101 Hang Up
The HX-P101 is the smallest and least expensive speaker in the entire line. At the size of a hockey puck, the HX-P101 performed exceedingly well especially given the $39.99 price tag. The small device packed in some great highs, good bass and fine mids for an overall clear mono sound. There was some distortion at the higher volume settings.
Most of these devices have a point of differentiation between them and the Hang Up features a really neat one: a sticky pad. On the bottom of the unit, there’s a reusable adhesive pad so that the unit can be stuck up on a cupboard, window or even a shower tile. I stuck the speaker to a wood cabinet overnight by applying good pressure to the HX-P101 to adhere it. It did stay attached for at least a few hours, but fell to the floor overnight.
The Hang Up runs for 8 hours between charges.
HX-P303 Hang Tight
The HX-P303 is a larger version of the HX-P101 without the sticky pad; the Hang Tight is a little bit smaller than a frisbee golf disc in width and height. This device was my least favourite out of the bunch because of the sound quality. This speaker had no “gimmick” or special feature when compared to other JAM products and the sound really lacked profile because of a lack of bass. The unit pumped out more sound, but was very thin sound. The HX-P303 can deliver mono sound for 12 hours.
Additionally, unless the unit is hung, the unit’s physical profile makes it impractical for shelves or ledges. Finally, the speaker that was supplied experienced intermittent Bluetooth connection issues.
HX-P505 Hang Around
The HX-P505 had a great form factor. Unlike the HX-P303, this unit can fit in a lot of smaller spots with its pill shape. I fit this speaker in a small space between the top of my pool table cue rack and the ceiling because of its three inch height. I had two specific minor issues with this unit. First, I tested all units in black but this unit developed white marks much more easily than the others. Second, all of the Hang series speakers had a small plastic “door” to protect the power and AUX port. The door on this unit did not sit flush with the rest of the device.
The Hang Around had a warm sound profile compared to the HX-P303. With the dual drivers and dual passive bass radiators in the Hang Around, the sound was bass-heavy. The speaker, which can run for approximately twenty hours between charging, can be paired with another HX-P505 to deliver stereo sound.
JAM Audio Chill Series
The two speakers that I tested in the Chill Series: the Chill Out and Zero Chill both featured a more well-rounded sound profile when compared to the Hang speaker and a cylindrical shape. There is a third speaker in the line that was not tested as a part of this review, the HX-P404 Double Chill.
All of the speakers in the Chill range have a “false bottom” design where the AUX port and Micro-USB port as well as the charge cable are stored. It is an elegant solution to hide these ports, but these bottoms needed to be worked in. The first time that I tried to access the bottom of the Chill Out, it took a lot of elbow grease to accomplish.
HX-P202 Chill Out
At about the size of a whiskey glass (2.87″ x 3.94″ x 2.95″), the Chill Out packs a mean punch. The 3W driver and passive radiator deliver great sound quality for its size. With its form factor and waterproof capability, the HX-P202 is a good value speaker to throw into your bag for a weekend away. It’s sturdy, waterproof, holds a charge for 8 hours and fits perfectly into a cup holder making it perfect for the cottage or the beach. Just don’t expect this speaker to power a beach party as the sound on the Chill Out got muddy when the volume was cranked to 100%.
One quick editor’s note: when you remove the speaker from the packaging just remember to take off the controls sticker from the top of the unit when you start using it. Keeping the controls sticker on the top of the device severely affects the quality of the sound.
HX-P606 Zero Chill
The Zero Chill rounds out the line and I saved the best for last. The HX-P606 is the only speaker in the JAM Audio family of speakers that packs in stereo sound. At the size of a tall beverage can, this is the best offering in the line. Put on your favourite music irrespective of the genre (classical or hip-hop, for example) and enjoy the lush sound that the unit pumps out.
In addition to delivering stereo sound, the Zero Chill is also the only speaker that JAM Audio provided that offers 360 degrees of sound. About 80% of the total surface area of the device is meshed with only a small solid false bottom to store a spooled up charge cable and hide the AUX and Micro USB.
Overall review: JAM Audio Hang and Chill speakers
JAM Audio has a lot of options for you to choose from.
If budget is no concern to you, the stereo, 360-degree sound of the HX-P606 Zero Chill fits the bill. However, don’t discount a few of the other offerings in the series: the HX-P101 Hang Up offers a great value and can be adhered to most surfaces for the length of a gathering, the HX-P202 Chill Out can fit into a cup holder and makes a great speaker for the beach or the cottage and the HX-P505 Hang Around is a great mid-range mono speaker.
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